Radio Netherlands Worldwide

SSO Login

More login possibilities:

  • Facebook
  • Flickr
  • Twitter
  • Google
  • LinkedIn
Sunday 21 December  
24-Hour Society

Earth Beat - 24-Hour Society

On air: 4 November 2011 3:00 (Photo: Flick/larskflem)

More about:

Earth Beat, 4 November 2011. As the gap between night and day gets shorter, we ask how 24-hour society affects our environment. From taxi drivers doing the graveyard shift, to globetrotting executives working through three time zones, we meet the people working round the clock to keep things running.

Listen here

Download as MP3 (right-click and 'save as')

Subscribe to podcast feed Subscribe in iTunes Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter

Port of Rotterdam
Port of Rotterdam
Why Europe’s busiest port never shuts down

More than 18 million containers pass through the Port of Rotterdam each year, bringing everything from televisions to toilet paper from all over the world. No wonder the work there never stops. Host Marnie Chesterton hits the coffee and gets up at 4am to take a dockside tour with manager Gerrit Orgers, who regularly works the graveyard shift.

How to cope with permanent jet lag

We speak with someone who lives and works in three locations: Hong Kong, New York and London. He's up at all hours, dealing with all three offices in their local time, no matter where he happens to be.

Leon Kreitzman
Leon Kreitzman
The body clock

All-night shopping, eating, entertainment, round-the-clock trading, continuous manufacturing and the internet mean that we’re stretching our daytime hours well into the night, but is there a cost?

Leon Kreitzman is an expert on our 24-hour lifestyle and says no matter how hard we try, our bodies can’t switch day and night and neither they should.

Leon's book is called The 24 Hour Society.

Stories from the city that never sleeps

New York taxi driver Alex Mensah
New York taxi driver Alex Mensah
Think “city that never sleeps” and which city do you think of? New York, of course. It’s long been famous for its shops that are open 24/7 – in fact, it’s probably the birthplace of the concept. Earth Beat correspondent Anna Boiko-Weyrauch stayed up for 24 hours straight to bring us the sounds of a city – and its people – that just keep on going.

Power cuts cripple business in Kampala

We might all want to be able to buy online at 6am, but sometimes it’s not possible to work round the clock. The Ugandan capital Kampala regularly experiences unexpected power blackouts thanks to the process of ‘load shedding’ which happens every time energy companies miscalculate the demand for electricity.

So, they switch it off for a few hours here and there until there’s enough to go round again.

Robert Okello owns a printing press, and tells Marnie how the rationing prevents 24-hour society from running smoothly.

We are natural procrastinators

Piers Steel has been studying our increasing rates of procrastination, and says that a 24-hour society might not necessarily mean that we’re more efficient or productive, even if suddenly we have 24 hours to do everything that needs to be done in our increasingly busy days.

Tim Hunter
Tim Hunter
Take Dr Steel's test in The Procrastination Equation.

Fighting to keep dark skies

24-hour society means we need 24-hour light – even, sometimes, in the dead of night.

But the pollution caused by this permanent glow is confusing animals, harming humans, and making it impossible to see the stars (photo below).

Tim Hunter has set up the International Dark Skies Association to try and combat this growing problem.

Tim tells Marnie why we should all be embracing the dark side of life.  

Living life in the slow lane

Some places don’t do late opening and that goes for most Dutch towns and villages.

The small fishing town of Urk resists it more than most - you’ll find 25 churches completely full on a Sunday morning.

We visit a place where instead of the 24-hour society, we find religion at the centre of society.
Click image for slideshow - use arrows to scroll

  • Light pollution in Washington DC<br>&copy; Photo: IDA -
  • Minne Veldman - musician and conductor living on Urk<br>&copy; Photo: RNW/Fiona Campbell -
  • Urk residents Johan van Slooten with wife Marijke<br>&copy; Photo: RNW/Fiona Campbell -
  • Another church being built on Urk<br>&copy; Photo: RNW/Fiona Campbell -
  • Winter terrace under construction despite controversially being the only one in Urk<br>&copy; Photo: RNW/Fiona Campbell -


Gerrit (the one in the nightshift ;o) ) 14 November 2011 - 7:35pm / The Netherlands

Very informative. I particularly liked the part on the body clock. 'We' never think about it much, but many of the symptoms described when messing with your body's natural flow were quite familiair...

user avatar
Earth Beat 18 November 2011 - 10:50am / Netherlands

Hi Gerrit, thanks for taking part in the show - you set it up very nicely! Sweet dreams - from the Earth Beat team

Post new comment

Please be reminded all comments must be in English, short and to the point - guideline 250 words. Abusive and inappropriate comments will be removed.

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <p> <br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

RNW on Facebook

RNW Player

Video highlights

Ladies on the move
RNW is keen on featuring inspiring women in our target countries, women who...
What about men?
In many countries, men don't stick around to raise their children. This is...